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Online Tools for Instructional Continuity


Emergencies related to severe weather or a health crisis can result in missed class time for students and instructors. UNM recommends the following to keep a main campus or branch class going if you or students can’t safely get to class. UNM recognizes that not all students and faculty will be able to access the internet regularly in some emergency contexts; we encourage students and faculty to communicate about possible alternative formats.

Just as you would with a classroom meeting, thinking through communication, assignments, and assessments in an online format will help you provide continuity in an emergency.

Related: For further guidance and information related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit UNM's Coronavirus page.

Getting Started with Online Instruction

Faculty have many options for supporting instruction, in person and online. This page provides some quick-start documents for using institutionally supported tools for online media, web conferencing, and instruction. Through collaboration between IT Academic Technologies, the Center for Teaching and Learning / Center for Digital Learning, UNM Online, and others, there are a variety of support resources to get you started. Need a little personalized help? Webinars, drop in Virtual Consultations, phone support and much moire is available. See the "Getting Help and Support" section at the bottom of this page.

Online Communication

Consistent communication strategies help avoid confusion. Much of this may already be included in your syllabus, but you may need supplemental tools to support academic continuity in an emergency.

From Lobomail and other tools included in UNM's Microsoft O365 service to the Learning Management System (UNM Learn), there are many institutionally supported tools to assist with instruction.

UNM Learn provides a one-stop location for course information and communication, including feedback, discussion, course email, and announcements. We recommend setting up your course in UNM Learn if you have not already done so. The Center for Digital Learning has some good videos for getting started in UNM Learn and this Where to Start Guide. They have also created a basic Blackboard Learn template including a Zip file and instructions to help you get started quickly.

Virtual consultations on adjusting to distance learning, inclusive teaching practices, class culture, or active learning with Center for Teaching Excellence and Writing Across Curriculum are available. Reserve a spot online.

Other Tips for Online Communication

  • Post your syllabus online and keep it current
  • Notify students of what will happen should class be unable to meet, including:
    • How you will contact them
    • How you will share class materials and updated due dates and assignments to ensure instructional continuity
    • How they can reach you and/or TAs and GAs

Whether you are using UNM Learn or some other tool, make sure your students know where to find course information online and provide detailed instructions for assignments, online meetings, and technologies. If you will be handling student information, make yourself aware of FERPA guidelines and use best practices for working with UNM Data

Course Content

Documents, readings, and course materials can be posted online in UNM Learn, linked from library databases, or shared with your students in a variety of ways. Make sure your class knows where to look for them.

Asynchronous Tools

Asynchronous content is often the easiest to develop and does not require everyone to be online at the same time. This is especially important for individuals without adequate technology at home or who have circumstances that prevent meeting at a specific time.

  • Asynchronous content could be as basic as posting an assignment, a reading, or having an email discussion.
  • If your class meetings traditionally include lectures, you can easily Convert and Upload a PowerPoint Lecture or Record a PowerPoint Lecture with Capture using Kaltura directly within your Learn course. Kaltura is integrated with UNM Learn, and is a secure and scalable solution for delivering course video. Long online videos are less effective than shorter, focused 3-5 minute ones, so recording long lectures as a single video is not specifically advised. With online content, it is important to think through copyright protections and accessibility accommodations, including captioning costs, as well as effective delivery in the distracting world of online media.
  • UNM Learn has discussion tools that can facilitate asynchronous class discussions and collaborative writing

Synchronous Tools

Some instruction and student interaction requires live collaboration. This can be especially true for things like tutoring, office hours, or those cases where you need a live discussion. Be sensitive to student needs with required synchronous sessions.

  •  Blackboard Collaborate is an older web conferencing tool, but is integrated with UNM Learn, and can be useful when you want a secure recording of a webinar for later review or need class members to share control of a software application.
  • Zoom can facilitate synchronous online meetings for online, real-time, interactive classes and office hours. UNM has an Enterprise agreement with Zoom that covers Main Campus (including HSC) and the branches. If you will be hosting meetings with Zoom, request a Zoom Pro license (No charge for UNM users).

    Zoom supports screen sharing, polling, chat, and breakout rooms for smaller discussions. For students with limited Internet access, Zoom also supports a conference call number (audio only). If you will be recording Zoom sessions and student voice or likeness will appear in the session, you can export that video and upload it to Kaltura where it can be securely shared. Do not use Zoom Cloud Recordings for classes or put videos in a place where they could be publicly accessible.

Develop a plan for make-ups or dropping content if a lab, workshop, or studio must be missed.

Distributing, Collecting, and Grading Student Work

There are many online tools for receiving documents and course assignments, from email and OneDrive to UNM Learn. Make sure your students and teaching assistants know which methods you will be using.

  • UNM Learn supports an online gradebook and workflows for automatic grading of multiple choice assessments and providing feedback on a variety of assignment types.
  • UNM is a Creative Campus, which means that all students have access to Adobe Spark, and most students have access to the full Adobe Creative Cloud set of tools. These can be particularly powerful for development of student presentations and media assignments.
  • UNM Learn supports online quizzes and assessments.
  • Our university offers a wide variety of programs with unique instructional needs. As an individual and as a department, consider how you will adapt coursework in the case of an extended emergency.

Getting Help and Support

From technical help with the tools, pedagogical support for adapting teaching, and library support for incorporating library resources to student tutoring and accessibility, UNM has many support resources available. The following is a listing of commonly used services.

Familiarity with these tools and opportunities takes some time and practice. We recommend implementing some of these strategies in your course now so that they are familiar if they are needed in an emergency.

Available Tools for Online Instruction

UNM Learn

UNM Learn is a Learning Management System that supports online communication, grading, assessments, assignment submission and grading. The system is available to all faculty by request, and online/hybrid classes by default. A great place to start with Learn is this Getting Started Guide.

Online Videos / Lecture Capture

UNM supports Kaltura, an online tool for delivering video to classes in UNM Learn. Kaltura supports upload of video, or recording of content directly in the tool itself. (See: Get started with Kaltura).

Web Conferencing / Collaboration

From office hours to synchronous online meetings, UNM supports multiple tools for live interaction with your students.

Microsoft Skype for Business / Teams

Access to Microsoft Skype for Business / Teams is built into UNM's Microsoft O365 agreement. Both support live web conferencing and screen sharing, and are available by signing into LoboMail. Support for Skype is outlined by UNM IT on FastInfo (See: FastInfo #7345 — What is Skype for Business, and How Do I Use It?).

Zoom

Zoom is an industry-leading web conferencing system that supports synchronous communication. UNM has signed an enterprise license with Zoom, and we can provision you with a Zoom Pro account upon request. The Zoom Information Page has good information about needed equipment and best practices for using the tool. For main and branch campus users, request a Zoom Pro license. HSC users can request an account through the office of the HSC CIO.

Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate is a web conferencing system that has a tight integration with UNM Learn and can be securely used for student presentations, seminar discussions, and cases where recordings of online discussions are required for later review.

Available Tools for Online Instruction

Free access to Pearson MyLab, Mastering, Revel

For courses using Pearson textbooks that have an optional MyLab, Mastering, or Revel online component, Pearson is offering free access to course materials for instructors and students for the remainder of the Spring 2020 term. Instructors can follow the instructions at the bottom of the page to contact their Pearson rep for more information on how to adopt content and give access to students. Please note that due to resource constraints new adoptions cannot be integrated with UNM Learn for Spring 2020 term. However, if you would like to integrate MyLab/Mastering/Revel in future terms, please contact UNM Bookstore for more information.

Free access to ebooks for students

UNM has an existing agreement with RedShelf for providing student access to a variety of electronic course materials. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, RedShelf, in conjunction with their publishing partners, is providing students with free, convenient access to ebooks through their RedShelf Responds program. Students only need to register with their @unm.edu email address and provide an ISBN number to get access through May 25th.

Available Tools for Online Instruction

News and Resources

Contingency planning for moving instruction online is a national effort right now. As such, many organizations are developing helpful resources and instruction for how to quickly adapt a class for online instruction. Not every tool mentioned in the articles below are licensed for use at UNM, but we have selected a variety of articles that we believe offer valuable insight for faculty who are thinking about how to best support their students in the event of an emergency.

Chronicle of Higher Education - Going Online in a Hurry

NYU Shanghai - Digital Teaching Toolkit

Online Learning Toolkit - Emergency Checklist for Moving Instruction Online

WICHE Consortium for Educational Technology - Coronavirus resource page

Questions to ask students as you’re getting ready to move online

Questions to ask students about online course feasibility (Danya Glabau)

Tools to help students navigate online learning

Dr. Caleb McDaniel’s and Dr. Jenifer Bratter’s Tips for Learning During Disruption 

Sources of ongoing/in-development teaching resources

Sarah Laiola’s Google Sheet collecting tweets, threads, and other resources for teaching online (updated multiple times a day and invites comments for adding content)

UNM Professor Cash Clifton's New Mexico Adult Education Distance Learning Resources

Keeping Accessibility and Student Experience in Mind

Aimi Hamraie’s Mapping Access: Accessible Teaching in the Time of COVID or her excellent thread on accessibility within content management systems (such as Blackboard/UNM Learn). 

A curation of tweets, links and tips for teaching online with care in mind, thinking beyond the technical.

Joint statement by the Online Learning Consortium, Quality Matters, and WICHE (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) Cooperative for Educational Technologies